Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Pho No. 1, Springvale, Melbourne

Melbourne, Pho No. 1

Yeap, we did have some pho while we were in Melbourne. This shop (17-19 Buckingham Avenue, Springvale, Melbourne, tel : +61 3 9546 9528) was a recommendation from some friends.

Melbourne, Pho No. 1, pho tai gau

The portions were pretty big. Here's a medium sized pho tai gau - a combination of sliced beef and fat with nice slurpy rice noodles. It looks a little gross from the yellowed bits of fat but there was actually some flavour to be had from chewing them. Soup had a light beefy flavour but also a little sweet. That's not bad at all, but given a choice I still prefer the all savoury version which O Banh Mi does. 

Melbourne, Pho No. 1, egg soda

That's a soda sữa hột gà, also known as egg soda. It has milk and egg typically but this particular one also has orange. It doesn't taste weird if that's what you're wondering. Couldn't taste the egg in the drink. The milk and orange combination is pretty much what one is getting from the Sunrise at Coffee Bean, no? Well, Sunrise has got vanilla. But still it's a little like Yakult right? With a little bubbly. Not strange at all.

Melbourne, Pho No. 1, basil lemon bean sprouts

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Halal Snack Pack and chicken salt chips from Wot A Kebab

Melbourne, Wot A Kebab, halal snack pack

Here's a Halal Snack Pack to go from Wot A Kebab (20 Linden Tree Way, Cranbourne, Melbourne). Something for the late nights or post drinks in the form of a salted flavour bomb that will stick in the stomach.

Melbourne, Wot A Kebab, halal snack pack

But it wasn't a late night nor had we been drinking. It was the middle of the day and we just wanted to give their Halal Snack Pack a go. We went with mixed shaven lamb and chicken over salty cheese and chips with garlic and chilli sauce.

Melbourne, Wot A Kebab, halal snack pack

The portions were Australian sized. Haha. While I was initially a little worried about their chilli, it turned out kinda nice. Sriracha kind of nice. I surprised myself by finishing up the most of this box.

Melbourne, Wot A Kebab, chicken salt chips

Their chicken salt chips was surprisingly addictive. We were popping chip after chip even though we were stuffed from the HSP. Damn, these were dangerous.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

After The Tears, Elsternwick, Melbourne

Melbourne, After The Tears

We’ve never had Polish food before. Eastern/Central European food has never been in easy access from this part of the world we live in, so besides the short lived Dracula and Kaiserhaus, I don’t think we’ve had much from that part of the world. While it’s not very different to the rest of European food, it’s not exactly the same too.

Melbourne, After The Tears, chilli lemon vodka

We eased into the meal with some chilli lemon vodka because After The Tears (9B Gordon Street, Elsternwick, Melbourne, tel : +61 3 8592 4642) was also a vodka bar with more brands than one has teeth.

Melbourne, After The Tears, pierogis

One of what's not the same about Polish food are pierogis. While they're recognizeable in form as some sort of dumpling with stuffings, they're insistent that these are Polish dumplings that aren't ravioli. Who would we be to say otherwise? These ones stuffed with minced roasted duck and apple, topped with cooked sour cherry were delicious!

Melbourne, After The Tears, golabki

While the Greeks have their lahanodolmades, the Polish have gołąbki - boiled cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and meat amongst other things. This meat used in this particular one was veal. The whole of which topped with a paprika laced roasted tomato sauce. Even though I generally avoid tomato based sauces, I'd have to admit that this was tasty in a very rustic homely kind of way which I enjoyed. 

Melbourne, After The Tears, crispy rice balls

We had some crispy rice balls aren't so different from the Italian arancini. Bread crumbed and fried, these rice balls had bits of artichoke and are well flavoured with Parmesan cheese. Tasted a lot better than the looks suggested. Those pink stuff are beetroot aioli by the way. 

Melbourne, After The Tears, blood sausages

Couldn't pass on their kaszanka which I had spied on the menu; blood sausages/black pudding by another name. These ones had stuffings that included buckwheat groats. Served with mashed potatoes, mustard and an apple & onion slaw. The latter a foil for all the richness of the dish. Again, delicious.

Melbourne, After The Tears, barramundi

The restaurant also did a delicious pan seared barramundi. Yes, I'm aware that I've used the word delicious a number of times already. Crispy skinned barramundi that came with sautéed potatoes, beans and spinach. And delicious capers that were not overly salty. Savoury and hearty would be good words here.

Melbourne, After The Tears, pierogi

What do we have here? More pierogi! This one was stuffed with sauerkraut and porcini, sautéed with brown butter and sage and topped with a little dab of cranberry horseradish. Pretty tasty stuff too though the earlier one with the duck tops this.

Melbourne, After The Tears, bbq ribs

Their sticky BBQ ribs with red wine and honey were a little sweet at this point of the dinner where we were definitely encountering diminishing returns from each bite. The flavour was almost peculiar. Almost like Chinese lor bak (braised pork) minus the spices. Unanimously agreed upon that it would be something that none of us would be ordering again.

Melbourne, After The Tears, poppyseed cake

We finished up with a poppyseed cake with Maraschino cherries and cream, drizzled with a spiced coulis.

Melbourne, After The Tears

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Burger Project, St. Collins Lane, Melbourne CBD

Melbourne, St. Collins Lane, Burger Project

We were looking for a place where we could get a no-nonsense quality burger in Melbourne and were recommended Burger Project (The Aviary Level 2, St. Collins Lane, 260 Collins Street) by a friend (cheers Crystal!); which from what I've read is an offshoot from the Rockpool Dining Group.

Melbourne, Burger Project, burgers fries shake

Was it good? Yeah, I think so. It's a joint that seemed focused on the quality of the ingredients - especially the beef, than trying to be unnecessarily fanciful. The only place from back home I could compare them to is Omakase Burger. I see and taste parallels in their burgers.

Melbourne, Burger Project, burger fries shake

Burger Project has buns that held up better from the juices though. Their chips (fries) were thick cut, nicely crusted and addictive - hence, better too.

Melbourne, Burger Project, burger

The meat was of medium doneness, properly salted and had a good crust on the exterior. The only thing that I would change in a revisit would probably be to omit their sauce. Not a fan of their special sauce or rose mayonnaise. I didn't think those helped much. I have no qualms revisiting them though. 

Melbourne, Burger Project, fries shake

There's a thick shake on the menu which comes in Valrhona chocolate which was pretty good. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Dolan Uyghur Restaurant, Springvale, Melbourne

Melbourne, Dolan Uyghur Restaurant, Uyghur cuisine

Heard of Uyghur people and their food? Me neither. They're an ethnic minority from Xinjiang; a region of China that borders places like Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The people are Muslims and their food predominantly Halal. That translates to plenty of lamb and kebabs. And they have a representation of their cuisine down in Springvale (10 Queens Avenue, Springvale, Melbourne, tel : +61 3 9546 0698)

Melbourne, Dolan Uyghur Restaurant, Uyghur yoghurt

We started off with some Uyghur yoghurt. It tasted like lassi that is lightly sweetened so nothing unexpected or surprising there.

Melbourne, Dolan Uyghur Restaurant, Tohu Goshi langmeni

We had a couple of their noodle dishes. The first was their Tohu Goshi Langmeni. I'm guessing that the last word "langmeni" is derived from the Chinese la mian - which means pulled noodles. This one was of the flat variety, somewhat similar to pappardelle in appearance; stir fried with some vegetables and chicken. The texture of those flat noodles were springy and pleasant. Not a springy texture that I could say that I had experienced before though. I thought this was pretty good.

Melbourne, Dolan Uyghur Restaurant, Qanalgan Korma langmeni

The other noodles looked like regular thick noodles that were chopped to short bits. This dish, called Qanalgan Korma Langmeni was cooked with different vegetables (celery and carrots) and minced lamb in some stock which might have had a tomato base. It wasn't very spicy in spite of appearances but was flavoursome the same.

Melbourne, Dolan Uyghur Restaurant, lamb skewers

One of the kickass items that they do rather well was their lamb skewers. These were chunkier than those quite easily found yang rou chuan that we have back home. While this had a less heavy hand on the seasoning, both varieties were delicious in their own cumin-y and salty way.

Melbourne, Dolan Uyghur Restaurant, skewers

There were also chicken skewers which were no less tasty. The spice mix as you might have guessed are the same for all their meats. For the first time, it hit me that these tasted very much like tandoori chicken. Too bad the lamb tripe wasn't as good as I had imagined. The seasoning didn't cling very well to the tripe which resulted in some bits lacking flavour.

Melbourne, Dolan Uyghur Restaurant, offal

We ordered a plate of their stir fried lamb offal which included lungs, heart and liver. This was very nicely done. Those innards were thin sliced and rather tender. This dish would have been awesome with rice.

Melbourne, Dolan Uyghur Restaurant

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The General Assembly, South Wharf, Melbourne

The General Assembly, South Wharf, Melbourne

Had lunch here (29 South Wharf Promenade, South Wharf, Melbourne, tel : +61 3 9682 6007) while we were at South Wharf so this was a totally random pick. This place was kinda like Brewerkz. Craft brew on tap and food to be had. We didn't get any beer though.

The General Assembly, boneless lamb ribs

Those are boneless lamb ribs with mint sauce. The rib meat was deboned, breaded and fried. Unfortunately it didn't taste as good as it might have sounded. The meat needed more salt. Mint sauce tasted like the over sugared stuff that came from a jar.

The General Assembly, Camembert

The food was then subsequently saved by the Camembert. With honey and thyme and a dense and tasty walnut bread to go with. Wished they had given more bread for the gooey stinky cheese though.

The General Assembly, chicken textures of corn

Unexpectedly outstanding was their char grilled chicken breast with textures of corn. The meat from the chook was deliciously smoky while the crisp, char and sweet puree from the corn textures was enjoyable to say the least. These guys sure did a good job out of corn and chicken.

The General Assembly, ravioli

As much as we had enjoyed the Camembert and the chicken, we felt that the most awesome plate they served today was their ravioli. With green peas, Pecorino cheese, lemon and mint along with burnt lemon butter. Flavours were a medley of sweetness from the peas, citrus from the lemon and a nice savoury undertone from the cheese. As a dish, this could possibly be the best ravioli I've ever had to date.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Skewered kangaroo loin from The Meat & Wine Co.

Melbourne, The Meat & Wine Co., kangeroo loin

This steakhouse down by Southbank was the response from a couple of friends when I was asking about having kangaroo in Melbourne. I'm pretty sure there're a number of places here that does this stuff but this particular one from The Meat & Wine Co. (3 Freshwater Place, Southbank, Melbourne, tel : +61 03 9696 5333) was something they thought was properly done and deserved a try. To their credit, it was a good recommendation. We were served on a skewer, nicely charred medium rare pieces of kangaroo loin over fried onions and potatoes. I had even found the sweet marinade that they used on the meat enjoyable. If anyone was wondering, that meat was tender like beef tenderloin with a light gaminess which I thought was delicious.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Gami Chicken & Beer, Westfield Fountain Gate, Melbourne

Melbourne, Gami Chicken & Beer, fried chicken

I certainly hadn't expected my first meal in Melbourne to be Korean Fried Chicken. But Gami (Westfield Fountain Gate Level 1, 352 Princes Highway, Narre Warren, Melbourne, tel : + +61 3 8774 3986) wasn't bad at all. This order of boneless chicken we had was tender and crispy without being excessively greasy. This was almost the experience we had from Chicken Up some years back. We did supplement that with some of their spicy seafood jigae which was pretty decent stuff. Certainly didn't expect to find scallops in them.

Melbourne, Gami Chicken & Beer, seafood jigae

Monday, October 23, 2017

More rice and fish at Kuro Maguro

Kuro Maguro, Guoco Tower

We tried a couple of the other donburi at Kuro Maguro today that didn't look like a variant of chirashi or contained tuna. 

Kuro Maguro, aji meshi

That included some marinated aji which I didn't like because of the ginger flavour.

Kuro Maguro, grilled mekajiki toro don

There was grilled mekajiki toro. Grilling seemed to have robbed the swordfish of what was recognizeable about the raw rendition of fish. While it wasn't bad, I don't think I enjoyed that BBQ sauce enough to ever order it again.

Kuro Maguro, hononiku karaage

What we found pretty enjoyable was their hononiku karaage, which was a little different from the one at their parent Maguro Donya Miura Misakikou Sushi & Dining. This version was battered while the latter as I recall was breaded.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

And I said, "What about breakfast at Nassim Hill Bakery?"

Nassim Hill Bakery, cheddar bacon waffle

So we ended up at Nassim Hill Bakery. Which I remember liking for their hot Reuben with beer bread

Those cheddar bacon waffles were good. Textures of thin, crisp and light that were paired up with a little bit of sweet and salty as one could rightfully expect from the Cheddar cheese, bacon bits and possibly maple syrup. So good you could even eat them on their own. Or with the accompanying sour cream. But - their bacon on the side was kinda disappointing. It wasn't smoky at all. And having that smoky element gone from the bacon made it feel hollow. A bacon without soul.

By the way their scrambled eggs and sausage aren't bad at all too. That tightly packed, salty and just that little bit spicy sausage with bread would be just one of those things that I could look forward to in the morning.

Nassim Hill Bakery, scrambled eggs sausage

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Botanico at The Garage, Botanic Gardens

Someone(s) out there spent a lot of time, money, blood and sweat to build this restaurant (Level 2 The Garage, 50 Cluny Park Road, tel : +65 9831 1106). And then they built a website that they thought it deserved to introduce it to the world. Which is why I won't be doing it. Here's a link.

But here's what I think of it. Their ideas are good. Execution is in my not so humble opinion, not so. 

oyster | avocado jalapeño emulsion | smoked salmon roe
Oysters with avocado puree would be what I would call it. Not getting any smoke from those puny portions of roe or the jalapeño. Was hoping for the shellfish to be more chilled. I'm not an expert on oysters so I'll just say they're not bad. 

pork belly | charred pineapple | sherry glaze
Their pork belly was a sweet, savoury and fall apart tender kind of nice. But for what they charged, I was hoping that it would be outstanding rather than just nice.

lamb tartare | capers | mustard ice cream
I liked the idea of lamb tartare because I generally like lamb and I thought this might be on to something. While it was obvious that it's meat, I couldn't identify what meat it was. Too much marination perhaps. Not traditional tartare in terms of spices but the creamy mustard ice cream worked. Not getting the smoked olive oil too. As a dish, it was fine. As lamb tartare, I consider it to be a spectacular failure.

Those cheesy crackers that came with the lamb were nice though.

roasted pigeon | risotto | walnuts
There was a roasted pigeon with risotto made with pigeon jus, onions and mozzarella cheese. The rice had a flavour that reminded me of French onion soup. Which is not surprising considering that the soup was essentially a beef stock, onions and eventually some cheese. I liked this. The bird was nicely roasted to a medium doneness and properly salted. Possibly the only impressive dish we had.

carabinero | saffron mellow rice | pork crackers | pine nuts
Those carabinero prawns were tasty. Crustacean-ily flavoursome as one would expect. The rice was sweet. Loads of sweetness coming from some crustacean stock and from what we were tasting, totally devoided of salt. So only the prawns were nice.

jalapeño ice cream | bacon financier | Sarawak pineapple | coriander
Ice cream was not bad. Getting that jalapeño flavour through the creaminess. Not sure what's the deal with the bacon financier thought. It would seem that Botanico isn't very different from a bunch of other restaurants in town; attempting to slap up some interesting combinations of ingredients and flavours on the menu without any responsibility of having to live up to what they have claimed. 

malt ice cream | 70% dark chocolate | Guinness stout | thyme
Couldn't taste the malt in the ice cream. That's just sad right? They've probably wasted the Guinness as well in whichever item that was suppose to have stout. I'm getting the thyme and chocolate though.

I thought it was a pity that the food didn't quite work out. There was a very pleasant outdoor seating that even had air conditioning which I would have wanted to try if there was a possibility of returning. They even pour a nice moscato that was less overpriced than most others by glass.